EnergyBiz Magazine November/December 2009
In This Issue
  • BIG SPENDING AND GRAND AMBITIONS
    ENERGY SECRETARY STEVEN CHU NAILED it. “The grid is the most massive machine we operate,” he said.Chu headlined the hugely successful GridWeek conference in Washington earlier this fall. Some of the news and themes that surfaced at the conference, which attracted a record crowd of 1,400, will continue to resonate with utility executives, policy makers, regulators, vendors and others passionate...
  • WINNERS AND LOSERS
    ALTHOUGH THE ELECTRIC INDUSTRY HAS endorsed the concept of cap and trade as the least onerous approach to carbon regulation, at least one major company endorses it with unalloyed enthusiasm. Exelon not only supports the idea, it stated in a second-quarter conference call to analysts, which it posted to its Web site, that it expects to see a “$1.1 billion and growing annual upside to Exelon...
  • MEASURABLE RAMP UP IN SPENDING?
    WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ISSUING $787 billion in stimulus money and pushing hard for a remaking of the industry, to what extent is stimulus funding speeding up deployment of smart meters and other smart grid elements? Maybe there will be some acceleration, but it hasn't yet started and the stimulating effect is likely to be relatively minor when it does get under way.Taking the issue of...
  • CUSTOMER AS KING
    ELECTRIC UTILITY RETAIL CUSTOMERS today face possibly the greatest risks and potential cost increases of any generation of American ratepayers. In addition, it is uncertain if the present industry structure or the rules under which it plays will be able to effectively manage these risks for the ultimate benefit of customers.Our nation has developed a patchwork of competitive and noncompetitive...
  • RESPONDING TO TOUGH TIMES
    RECESSION IS OVER AND RECOVERY IS HERE. And although there's an economic lag, it isn't expected to weigh down the utility industry.In recent years, power companies have paid increasingly higher building costs that have been largely predicated on volatile fuel prices as well as escalating raw material and skilled labor costs. Bleaker economic times, however, have blunted the trauma and led to a...
  • JEWEL OF AN EMPIRE
    A NUMBER OF PEOPLE AGREE THAT WILLIAM L. Gipson often feels like he is sitting on top of the world. And, he may be, even though his perch is out on the edge of the great U.S. prairie in tiny Joplin, Mo. Its population at last count: 45,500. What may give Bill Gipson, 52, this good feeling is that he is president and CEO of a smallish, yet very finely tuned and successful electric/gas/water...
  • States Tackle Diverse Issues
    THEY ARE MONITORING MASSIVE FEDERAL STIMULUS funds pouring into states to back energy investments. They are trying to safeguard their states’ interests as the smart grid is erected. They worry about energy prices. State utility regulators are in the hot seat like never before. As Congress and the Obama administration attempt to steer a century-old power industry in new directions, the regulators...
  • Implications of Grid Experiment
    XCEL ENERGY'S $100-MILLION PLAN TO CONVERT BOULDER, COLO., INTO A “SMARTGRIDCITY” HAS TEETH BUT MAY LACK LEGS.Eighteen months earlier, the utility had picked the university town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to showcase the nation's first, fully integrated smart-grid technology. Thousands of electric customers were fitted with smart meters, hundreds of miles of fiberoptic cable were...
  • Initiative Seeks Peak Shaving
    THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN SECURESMARTGRID INITIATIVE IS a bold plan to form a regional smart grid along the front range of the Rocky Mountains eventually extending from southern Wyoming to southern Colorado. The initiative has been led by Colorado State University and the Fort Collins-based smart grid systems engineering firm Spirae. The initiative is a public-private consortium that currently includes...
  • ADDING POWER A FEW MEGAWATTS AT A TIME
    ALTHOUGH THE CONSTRUCTION OF ANY new nuclear plant is at least a decade away, power plant owners are slowly adding to the fleet in small increments. A way to increase nuclear generation without turning one spade of dirt has been quietly going on for more than 30 years. The pace of its use has quickened. And while the drive to use it will eventually increase electric generation from that source by...
  • GETTING MORE FROM COAL
    THE U.S. COAL-FIRED ELECTRIC POWER industry is facing ever-increasing challenges in its efforts to help coal to remain a viable fuel.Impending legislation and regulations concerning allowable carbon dioxide emissions, in whatever form these rules might ultimately take, are putting growing pressure on coal-burning utilities to invest in carbon-capture technology research and to diversify their...
  • BREAKTHROUGH PARTNERSHIP
    WILL THE AUGUST AGREEMENT BETWEEN Duke Energy, the third-largest utility in the United States, and China Huaneng Group, China's largest state-owned utility, to collaborate on carbon-capturing technology and renewables live up to the expectations? The agreement is the first between major American and Chinese energy companies to reduce CO2 emissions, but its success depends on both utilities...
  • NEW EFFORTS MOUNTED
    WHEN BRUCE WILLIS IS ONCE AGAIN called upon to save the world from terrorists in Live Free or Die Hard, the resilient action hero copes with a cyber attack that cripples all modes of transportation, shuts down most telecommunications, and fills the airwaves, with disturbing scenes of destruction.To follow through on their plan to take out power along the Atlantic seaboard, they are obliged to...
  • AN UNPRECEDENTED AMOUNT OF SUPERcomputing power is allowing Department of Energy labs to conduct more sophisticated research into nuclear reactor safety, efficiency and design.To put the available processing power into perspective, five of the top 10 and 10 of the top 20 most powerful supercomputers in the world are in DOE labs.Using this computing power, one area of focus is to develop a set of...
  • ENHANCING SOLAR
    A TEAM LED BY THE NATIONAL RENEWABLE Energy Laboratory is going back to the basics to try to design new, efficient materials for solar energy and other applications. It is creating recipes for them at the atomic level, molecule by molecule.The Center for Inverse Design is not starting with an end concept and working back. Instead, materials scientists are targeting properties of a “dream material...
  • PARTNERSHIP IN WYOMING
    THE VAST COAL RESERVES OF WYOMING'S POWDER River Basin are an epicenter of new research into coal gasification technology both above and below the surface.A public-private partnership between General Electric and the University of Wyoming is building a small-scale gasification plant in Cheyenne, scheduled to be operational in 2012. The $100- to $120-million project will use a high-pressure feeder...
  • A CONVERSATION WITH NANCY GIOIA
    MANY ENERGY EXPERTS BELIEVE THAT THE dawn of the age of electric transport will be an unprecedented game changer for the electric utility industry – to say nothing of the American economy. It will enable power companies to ramp up sales around the clock and more efficiently use their assets. It also could make the vehicle owner a prized partner, providing energy storage to soak up vast supplies...
  • DEALING WITH UNCERTAIN COST RECOVERY
    INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS ARE OVER-whelmed with calls for smart gird implementations and many utilities are moving in that direction. They are doing so, however, with much uncertainty regarding cost recovery and even more uncertainty regarding any potential return on their investments. For the most part, state regulators have been slow to provide meaningful answers or directions for utilities...
  • WESTERN STATES BUILD
    TO LISTEN TO SOME MEMBERS OF Congress today, you would think that the nation's electric transmission planners, regulators and utilities have been asleep at the switch, and that without the federal government's help, the development of renewable energy in America will be unplugged.In fact, it's the other way around. It has been the states – particularly those in the West – that have been busy...
  • INNOVATIVE APPROACHES TO REGULATION AND COLLABORATION
    TODAY'S ENERGY REALITIES ARE DAUNTING. We are, after all, in a global recession, and there are significant environmental concerns about the role of energy in climate change. This has led to a flurry of dramatic legislative activity in our nation's capital and in state capitals across the country. I believe that these challenges present the energy utility industry with unparalleled opportunities...
  • STRONG REGULATORY ASSIST
    AFTER SEVERAL MONTHS OF FORMAL discussion, by the end of last year, the Mexican Congress approved a package of reforms to the legal framework for the energy sector. Although most of the deliberation was focused on issues regarding a potential opening of the oil sector and the performance of PEMEX, the national oil company, two completely new acts related to energy efficiency and renewable energy...
  • GEOTHERMAL ON CAMPUS
    INDIANA HAS ATTRACTED MUCH ATTENTION recently in the area of alternative energy. The state is a leading producer of ethanol, and last year, it demonstrated the nation's largest growth rate in wind power. Now, it is Ball State University's turn to make alternative energy news.On May 9, the university broke ground on a geothermal district ground source energy system that will be the nation's...
  • THIS MOMENT IS THE MOMENT ENERGYBIZ was created to serve. The magazine before you, conceived in the summer of 2004, published its inaugural edition five years ago this month. It has been shaped by journalists and energy industry thought leaders who believe that energy will define the future of both civilization and the environment.Fathering 30 issues of EnergyBiz has been a joy. I have been in...
  • THE END OF STABILITY
    I AM PLEASED TO JOIN THE DISTINGUISHED contributors to “Vision 2015” and the many readers of EnergyBiz in congratulating this excellent publication on its fifth anniversary. We look forward to many more issues containing your valuable information and insights. It is certain that the next five years will be full of many more surprises than the last five!The energy utility industry has been stable...
  • DENMARK'S EXAMPLE
    IN DECEMBER, WHEN ALL THE COUNTRIES of the world meet at COP15 in Copenhagen to negotiate the framework of a global climate agreement, the main aim will be to safeguard the society we live in today. However, another objective will be to fashion a sustainable society, which will serve as the foundation for the green economic growth of the future.This is not only something that has to do with our...
  • SEEK FLEXIBILITY
    THE FUTURE OF ENERGY FOR CON EDISON, 9 million New Yorkers and the nearly 16 million people who work in and visit the Big Apple daily will be shaped by an increasingly interconnected world.Smart grids will integrate information and communication technology with electric generation, delivery and consumption, giving consumers more choices and making systems cleaner, safer, more reliable and more...
  • ACCELERATING SUSTAINABILITY
    SINCE WE COMMITTED TO BECOME A MORE environmentally sustainable retailer in 2005, Walmart continues to increase and expand its commitment. One of our original goals was to be powered entirely by renewable energy – quite ambitious for a company that used very few kilowatts of renewable energy at the time. We set similar aspirational goals for the products we sell and for reducing waste from our...
  • INSTITUTE PURSUES INTEGRATED POLICIES
    THE FUTURE OF ENERGY IS THE CORE TENET of the significant efforts that are being undertaken by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, which is the capital of the United Arab Emirates.This has translated into the industrious implementation of the vision of the emirate's leadership to diversify the economy away from dependence on hydrocarbons to the extent that by 2020, 7 percent of the energy requirements of...
  • COUNT ON EFFICIENCY GAINS
    ENERGY POLICY IS A CONSTANTLY CHANGING amalgam of economic, political, environmental, military and foreign policy concerns. The underlying world energy situation is neither benign nor stable: a fundamental mismatch exists between the location of energy suppliers – especially for oil and natural gas – and the location of major energy consumers. The overall outlook is truly dynamic.For example, a...